by Dave Warner
Grammy-nominated blues artist Danielle Nicole is headed to Little Falls for a concert on August 30th, 7:30 pm at Benton Hall. Nicole’s “Cry No More” album was nominated in the Best Contemporary Blues Album Grammy category. The album was also the winner of the Blues Blast Music Magazine’s Contemporary Blues Album of the Year for 2018.
Founding member, lead singer, and bass player of the Kansas City blues-rock band Trampled Under Foot, Danielle Nicole stepped out on her own in 2015 with her debut album “Wolf Den.” In 2018, Nicole returned with a follow-up release via Concord Records.
If you’re not familiar with the Blues, then start to think a bit about classic rock, or a southern rock feeling along the lines of Stevie Ray Vaughn. There’s a lot of storytelling in Blues music and a lot of room for creativity.
According to Martin Babinec the show’s producer “We used to go to the San Francisco Blues Festival and the Marin County Blues Festival, and top-level talent would perform there. That’s where our journey began.”
Then they started taking the kids and it became a regular family outing. “When we moved to Little Falls in 1999, we started going on Blue’s cruises, which were music-themed cruises.”
Each of those Blue’s Cruises would feature 20-30 acts and each act would do 2-3 shows over the course of the cruise, so passengers got to see a lot of talent in a short period of time.
When Babinec returned to Little Falls, he looked at her schedule and found out that she had a gig just south of Rochester. “In the dead of winter, we drove up there for the show and then drove back, just to see her. It was snowing and a terrible night, but we were that dedicated to seeing her,” said Babinec.
It was a small club gig, so Babinec got to talk with her and she mentioned that she might be coming through Upstate New York again in the summer. That started the conversation about having a concert here in Little Falls, and what ended up with him being the producer of the show.
He stated, “Blues is not a genre that gets broad coverage…it’s a specialized genre, so the challenge is, what is the best way to reach people who are likely to show up.”
The greatest fear for Babinec is that they put on a great show and that not that many people show up. “That led us to form a relationship with the Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts and the Mohawk Valley Blues Society. The blues society has a pretty good mailing list and following, so it was a logical place to partner.”
“We want to take advantage of the community-building aspect of this concert and expand the exposure of the blues to more people,” he said.
“Danielle Nicole is a performer of exceptional talent, particularly as a live performer. Not all performers are kick-ass live performers. We’ve all been to concerts where the performance has been ‘ok’. She is a live performer that you just want to get more of. She puts it all out there,” stated Babinec.
“Her star is ascending, so we’re going to do the very best job that we can for this concert to be such a great experience for her that she’s going to want to come back even as her star continues to rise.”
Babinec said that many of our most revered rock artists, performers, and songwriters had blues as one of their styles. Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, the Led Zeppelin, the Doors or Jimi Hendrix “Pick your top performers and it’s hard to find one that doesn’t have an appreciation for the Blues.”
Nicole said, “I grew up playing the blues, and the blues are still a big part of what I do. But now I’m reaching out more and trying different things. It still sounds like me, but I’m stretching out a lot more than I have previously.”
Her distinctive, inventive bass work – which resulted in her becoming the first woman to win the Blues Foundation’s 2014 Blues Music Award for Best Instrumentalist, Bass – is the product of years of intensive roadwork. Although she had no experience with the instrument when she became Trampled Under Foot’s bassist, now she can’t imagine life without it.
“When I started doing my solo thing,” she continues, “someone asked me if I was gonna hire a bass player. No, of course not! I originally picked up the bass to keep Trampled Under Foot a family band, but I really fell in love with it. It was a huge challenge, and it still is. But I really love being part of the groove and getting to sing on top of that. I had learned some stuff on acoustic guitar before I started playing bass, but I never really felt connected to it the way I do with the bass. It’s empowering, walking onto a stage full of grown men who can play their asses off, and it’s ‘OK, I’m gonna play this bass, we’re gonna do this, and it’s gonna rock.'”
Rounding out her band are longtime Danielle Nicole Band guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Brandon Miller, and Ralph Forrest on drums.
“I think that it’s a good time for the kind of thing I’m doing,” she states. “From my years of playing blues festivals, I’ve seen that younger and younger audiences are getting into the blues. I think that people want to hear authentic music again.”
Jordyan Mueller who is the production manager for the event said “My role for this is all-encompassing, event coordinating and managing this production. However, I’m really focused on the promotion of the event and making sure that everyone knows who this amazing artist is. She’s incredible. So really getting her name out there, getting our partners out there, the Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts and the Mohawk Valley Blues Society.”
“This is getting Little Falls on the map and getting people excited about coming to the community for an amazing event that’s going to be professionally done is my main focus,” she said. “She does this incredible rendition of Purple Rain and people may not know her original work, but everyone and their brother knows that song.”
Mueller said, “I was on board before, but my excitement level has gone through the roof after listening to her music.”
Brian Molinaro, a Blues fan since the early 90’s said “I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Danielle Nicole perform a few times, including at the New York State Blues Festival in Syracuse. She is a high-energy artist who plays a rocking Blues style. She’s very energetic and she really connects with her audience. You can’t help but get into the music when she is up on stage.”
“When I heard that she was coming to Little Falls, my jaw just fell open, she’s that good. I’d recommend that any live music fans, especially Blues fans, come to check out the concert,” said Molinaro.
Babinec hopes that the community will be able to embrace the quality of this performer and what she is bringing and open their eyes to the genre. “The blues has a lot to offer and this is a blues artist that you don’t want to miss,” he said. “She is a good person with a really big heart and her strength and emotional commitment come across in her performances.”
The opening set for Nicole will be local Dolgeville favorite George Deveny & the Blueprints. Tickets for the concert are $20 per person in advance and $25 the day of the show with no discount available. They can be purchased by clicking here. You can also get more information about the event by visiting Facebook.
If you would like to volunteer to help in getting the word out, work as a stagehand, or take tickets at the door please email [email protected].
You can find out more about Danielle Nicole by visiting her website https://daniellenicolemusic.com/